Sheriff Bob keeps the peace in hometown

By Pat Kenney
Journal Correspondent

The slow innocent country life, filled with fun is refreshing to me. I've heard many here in our neck of the woods (both young and old) remarking that the old reruns of "Andy Griffith" are becoming their favorite form of in-home entertainment. We long for a simpler time.

Here in Union Parish we do not have Mayberry but we do have a sheriff much like Andy. Bob Buckley grew up here and has been our hometown sheriff for the last 20 years. Sheriff Bob's dad, Harry Buckley and mom, Novie Buckley were long-time residents in this Parish. Little Bob grew up loving our lakes and rivers, hunting and fishing and enjoying the fresh country air. He was their only child.

He was born in 1947, and his mother Novie was a dedicated mother and school teacher at Linville School. Bob was a normal, rambunctious country kid. Bob began school at Linville. However, as time went on his mother decided he needed a sterner education. When he was for the 5th and 6th grades, she had him in her classroom. She rose before daylight every morning, fed her family, then checked her lesson plans for the day and started off to her classroom. Young Bob, like most country boys in those days, seemed to be headstrong, and mother knew this had to be fixed. He remembers that he received at least one spanking a day from her. Teachers in those days did their own spanking in their classrooms. Both Bob and mother were highly taxed by this routine and when Bob was ready to enter the eighth grade he was again allowed to enter the ranks of his friends and had a new teacher. Mom's work was complete.

He tells this joke. It is by his mother's correction that he chose the "safe" career of law enforcement and was able to become our hometown Sheriff of Union Parish.

After high school Bob started to college at ULM in Monroe. He had known since he was eight years old that he wanted his life work to be a police officer. Bob lacked only 13 hours to graduate, but left because he had an opportunity to begin work as a State Trooper in south Louisiana. He worked during the McKeithen, Edwards and Treen administrations. The last ten years before retiring he worked in homicide. This was hard on him and his family but he learned to be compassionate and developed an easy going manner. He learned to talk to people in desperate situations. He says that he was blessed to be able to see a lot of things that taught him what would work and what would not work, in both government and law enforcement. Bob always wanted to come back home. When he retired from the state this became a reality.

Things have changed a great deal in law enforcement, yet some things stay the same. The trust placed in our local sheriff is the main resource we have and we know it. The way law men operate to be effective has changed. Bob says, "Our department works closely with the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. We make at least one drug arrest a day." Bob has just hired Neil Shaw, former KNOE meteorologist, as his newest narcotic officer. Neil has served as a reserve auxiliary deputy in Ouachita Parish for 18 years. Neil and three other officers have just finished "Gang School." Bob's staff is knowledgeable about signs of gang activity. The best way to fight crime is to prevent it. Training is the key. Bob commends his chief Narcotics Agent Kenneth (Moose) Delcambre for an outstanding job on the force. He is constantly looking for talent and hiring new people like Dusty Gates found right here at Rocky Branch.\par }{\plain At a recent meeting of the sheriffs in Louisiana, Bob was elected secretary-treasurer. He laughs and says if a crook comes here and tries to hide he won't have a chance because our good folks have a grapevine that is highly effective. We see to our neighbors.

The Union Parish Sheriff's Department consists of 51 employees, including part and full time and includes TRIAD and DARE personnel. There are 15 officers on patrol, five detectives, a 24 hour patrol. Bob hired the first female deputy. He put in the first African American supervisor and put in the first 24 hour patrol. Bob has spent a great deal of his life working at night. Whereas this increases time on the job, it is horrible for an officer's family time. Bob has mastered this balancing game.

The TRIAD office is located 804 Marion Highway in Farmerville. Susan Edwards and Donna Miller are tireless in their efforts to educate and extend help to our senior citizens. They conduct meetings in four locations every month to make it easier for seniors to attend and also have a voice in what is happening. They often bring in speakers and give out food to those in need.

The DARE program is headed by Donna Kemp. She goes into the schools to teach the students about drugs. She is a fifth grade teacher. Fifth grade is the main place DARE is taught. They also go to the first grade to get these students comfortable with police officers and see them as friends.

The most exciting thing happening is the new building for the Sheriff's Department. After a five and a half year wait, it is about to become a reality. The new facility will house all Union Parish Sheriff's agencies, including TRIAD, a narcotics agency, and a maintenance building. Carlton White was instrumental in securing the funds for this project. Bob credits Carlton as almost single-handedly getting these funds. Carlton would never give up. He is best remembered as the owner and editor of the two papers here, The Gazette and The Banner. James Carlton White passed away June 19, 2010. He was a temporary employee of the Union Parish Sheriff's Department as its public information officer and liaison between the office and the state and federal governments.

Bob's family has always been important to him. He might be busy but he finds time to take his nine year old son Joshua fishing, hunting and camping. They are just like Andy and Opie. The Buckleys are a close family. Bob is married to Janet Collins Buckley. She has one son from a former marriage, Caleb Robertson. Caleb and Joshua attend UCA, where Caleb will be a senior. Caleb lives with Bob and Janet and Josh. Bob says Janet is a better shot than he is. Bob has two older children from a former marriage, Courtney and Justin. There are two grandchildren. They are Jacob West and Madeline Buckley. Justin and Sara are expecting another soon.

Bob belongs to two churches and points to his faith as a great help in the adventurous life he chose. Little Bob never wants to grow up he says, and his dedication to his job is much like his ministry. There is nothing pretentious about our hometown sheriff. He is a good teacher, a good Sheriff, a good parent and all around good guy. He believes proper parenting would solve a world of problems for the world.

Courtney remembers Grandma Novie when she began having "senior moments." She would call sometimes 15 times a day to ask her trusted granddaughter a question. She wanted to know who that man was in her house. Courtney would patiently explain that it was Grandpa Harry. This was family dedication. Bob has no plans to retire.